There are quite a few ways to make a movie memorable. Some go from the flair of explosions and never-before-seen CG effects, others create unforgettable quotes and characters, but some movie makers leave the best for last. What the viewers see in the final scene of the movie usually makes the most impact and, if done correctly, will stick in people’s head for decades!
Here are, arguably, the 8 greatest final movie scenes of all time.
1. “Planet of the Apes” (1974)
How to make a mediocre movie worthy of a “cult classic” badge? Make sure it has a bombastic ending no-one would ever expect. Yes, I think “Planet of the Apes” is “meh” at best, but that ending makes it all worthwhile. In the end our heroes realize they’ve been on Earth this whole time, and the visuals of the half-destroyed statue of Liberty only add to the depressing feeling of helplessness. “You maniacs! You blew it up! God damn you! God dam you all to hell!”… man, now that’s a quotable line.
2. “Psycho” (1960)
Another amazing plot twist! Turns out Norman Bates wearing his mother’s clothes killed all those people, but we’re still not done with surprises. After that huge reveal Alfred Hitchcock shows Bates in a room, as we hear the voice of his mother telling him he wouldn’t even hurt a fly. After that he straight out breaks the 4th wall and looks into your eyes, while his grimace dissolves into a skeleton, and the scene transitions to show Marion’s car being pulled out of the swamp. Still gives me the chills.
3. “Memento” (2000)
I don’t even know where to begin with this masterpiece. The main character Lenny has a severe short term memory loss condition, so after a few minutes he forgets everything that happened. This in itself is a bold move for a story teller such a Christopher Nolan, but he builds up on this basis, making Memento one of the greatest movies ever made. I seriously cannot go into details why, but you will agree with my opinion if you saw it. And if you did see it, then you’d not understand the explanation anyway! Let’s just put it this way: the last scene of Memento, is not actually the last scene. Curious? Go watch it!
4. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)
I still remember the sound of my jaw hitting the floor after watching that last scene of “Raiders of the Lost Ark“, where the Ark of the Covenant, retrieved by Indiana Jones was being stored side by side with other potentially world-ending artifacts. I wonder what other things are boxed there?
5. “The Thing” (1982)
The blood-thirsty alien has finally been killed, and the wounded MacReady hopes to finally get some rest. But, surprise, Childs is still alive… or is he? The two decide to have a drink and see what happens. This tense and ambiguous cliffhanger finale is one of the reasons why “The Thing” became a cult classic, IMO.
6. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)
Here’s a clip to refresh your memory, because god knows you’ll need it! For years people have theorized what this sequence of scenes and images could actually mean? Aliens? Time-lapse? A giant space baby? I would never be able to figure out what’s what, but this definitely was a memorable ending. BTW, Kubrick himself explained what the hell was going through his head, so now we know he’s totally crazy.
7. “Seven” (1995)
What’s in the box?! You do not wanna know. The final, seventh sin has been committed after Brad Pitt looks inside the box to see his wife’s severed head. The fact that she was expecting, breaks Pitt’s character and he kills the psycho, therefore becoming the final piece of the puzzle. David Fincher, you freaking genius!
8. “The Sixth Sense” (1999)
This is the movie that showed us what M. Night Shyamalan can do if he really tries. The ending where see that Bruce Willis’ character has been dead all this time, is one of the best twists in the movie history.